Digital Marketing Health Checkup

Are you confident that your brand’s digital marketing presence is converting as often as it could? Most organizations have a digital presence because customers expect businesses to be accessible online today, no matter what service or product you sell. If you’re not sure whether your brand is ready to put its best foot forward in 2019, there’s no better time to give your digital marketing presence a checkup. We’ve put together five of the most common digital areas where brands need help.

1. Google Yourself

If you Google your business’s name, what shows up? Hopefully a few links to different pages of your website, your organization’s Facebook page, and an info card with more details about your business. However, this isn’t always the case, especially with small and medium sized businesses. Finding out what your customers encounter when they search for you can be a great place to start working on tactics to strengthen your digital presence. In addition, spend some time searching for keywords related to the products or services you sell. This will give you a better idea of who your digital competition is, and you might be surprised to find that it’s not who you expect.

2. Use Your Own Website

Many business owners pay a developer to build their website, and then the owners themselves never actually use it. This means it’s important to periodically check on your website. Make sure that everything looks as it should and that all the links work. If you have a contact form on the site, submit a fully filled out form as a test to ensure you’re not missing potential sales or customer conversions. In addition, make sure you have an updated SSL certificate on your site, which protects any information your customers may submit through the site, like credit card information or personal details.

3. Check Your Google My Business Account

If your organization has a physical location, it’s vital to make sure you have a Google My Business account and that it’s updated. Remember the info card mentioned in step 1? This is where the information on that card comes from. This is an easy way to inform customers about holiday hours, events, sales, and other relevant info. You can also add photos of your business, which make customers more likely to visit your location.

4. Review Social Media

Every few months, it’s important to give each of your social media channels a quick review. First and foremost, this means ensuring that you’re posting regularly. Once a week is the absolute minimum. If a potential customer looks at your social media and sees that you haven’t updated in three months, they may wonder if you’re still in business. Next, look at any new reviews or public page posts by customers. Is there a theme in what your customers love about your business? If you have any negative reviews, it never hurts to respond to them in a friendly way.

5. Look for PPC Leaks

Finally, if you’ve spent time running any digital advertising campaigns, it’s time to sit back and review them. Often, business owners will launch a campaign with a set budget and every intention of checking on it regularly. However, life gets in the way, and sometimes these things get forgotten or pushed to the back burner. Use this opportunity to look at where your money went by demographics and what your return on those demographics were. Look for any disproportionate numbers, either positive or negative to find out how you can better adjust your spending to more accurately reach your audience.

The start of a new year is an ideal time to sit back and look at what you’ve done in the digital realm over the last year. Performing a digital health checkup like this is a good way to ensure that you’re being strategic with your spending and allocation of digital resources. It’s also a great time to reset if a certain strategy or tactic just isn’t working. If that feels overwhelming, we’re always happy to help. We’re committed to helping organizations position their digital presences more strategically. Whether your brand is big or small, we can help you chart your course for success in the digital space and beyond. Send us a message today to learn more about what we do.

XSPORT GLOBAL ACQUIRES LEADING BRAND AGENCY SHIFT NOW

Digital Agency Provides Experienced Team and Scalable Revenue Base

Charlotte and Greensboro, NC – October 4, 2018 – XSport Global, Inc. (OTCQB: XSPT) (“XSport Global” or the “Company”), a leading youth and collegiate sports technology and media holding company focused on developing disruptive sports-centric technologies and related media projects around the world, today announced the acquisition the Greensboro-based, brand agency, Shift Now, Inc. Established in 2006, Shift Now is a full-service strategic, creative and digital marketing agency.

According to terms of the all-stock agreement (the “Agreement”), XSport Global will acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of Shift Now, Inc., in exchange for shares of XSport Global Common Stock. Under the Agreement, and based on certain business milestones, there are additional incentives of performance-based shares of XSport Global Common Stock to be earned out for certain revenue growth targets, during a 24-month period, at 12-month intervals.

Shift Now, is currently profitable and generates more than $3 million in annual revenue. Additionally, 13 members of the Shift Now team will become employees of XSport Global.

“With the acquisition of Shift Now, a profitable and scalable revenue generating firm, coupled with the outstanding team of professional employees Kristi Griggs has attracted, we now have our own leading agency to magnify our brands and transform the overall market.” said, Robert Finigan, CEO of XSport Global. “This highly complementary acquisition of Shift Now will serve as the foundation for XSport Global to develop our brands for the youth sports market without having to pay the high-margin, billable hours of outside creative agencies.”

Kristi Griggs, Principal shareholder of Shift Now, will assume the newly created position of Executive Vice President of XSport Global. In this role, Ms. Griggs will continue her role of overseeing the agency as Division President, while joining forces with the XSport Global Executive Team to further the Company’s offerings and services. Ms. Griggs brings a unique perspective to the Company, as she has journeyed through the process of raising a youth athlete who is now playing D1 softball.

“We have been in negotiations for some time; however, from our first meeting, I knew there was an outstanding opportunity for everyone at Shift Now. By combining forces with XSport Global, we will bring the Company to new heights,” said Kristi Griggs. “Youth Sports alone, is a highly fragmented, multi-billion-dollar market ripe for consolidation.” The cognitive assessment and training market alone, is estimated reach $7.5 billion by 2020 according to a paper: Cognitive Assessment and Training Market by Assessment Type (Pen & Paper Based, Hosted, Biometrics), Service, Application (Clinical Trials, Classroom Learning, Brain Training, Corporate Learning, Academic Research), Vertical and Region – Global Forecast to 2020,” published by MarketsandMarkets. Kristi added, “I am excited to develop a platform for families to learn how their children can have the best, most productive, and meaningful experience in sports. Additionally, our creative and media services team will be integrated to support all XSport Global’s pipeline.”

Robert continued, “This incredible opportunity was just too promising to pass up. We welcome Kristi, and the entire Shift Now team. I am excited to see all value that they will contribute to the future of XSport.”

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical are “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements involve a high degree of risk and uncertainty, are predictions only and actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements.

About XSport Global, Inc.

XSport Global, Inc. (OTCQB: XSPT) is a leading youth and collegiate sports technology and media holding company focused on developing disruptive sports-centric technologies and related media projects around the world, where sports industries and players are highly regarded. Backed by a roster of professional athletes and brand ambassadors, we seek to help athletes achieve their full potential through cognitive training, careers, genetics, recruiting and more. Our flagship company HeadTrainer, Inc was established to create, develop, promote, market, produce, and distribute online/mobile application cognitive training tools initially intended for the youth, millennial, and adult sports markets. The mobile platform was designed and developed in careful coordination with a team of professionals from the fields of science and medicine, and world-class athletes from a variety of sports. Visit www.xsportglobal.com and www.headtrainer.com for more information.

Contacts:  

Investors:
Chris Farmelo, TraDigital IR
+1 212-389-9782 Ext. 103

Media:
Sean Leous, TraDigital IR
+1 212-389-9782 Ext. 102

The Power of Digital Marketing Infographic

There’s no debating that the world of marketing is a very different place than it was a decade ago. Things are changing, and they’re changing fast. Almost of a daily basis, new marketing innovations and technology are making things both easier and more complex. There’s power in staying ahead of that curve. So, check out our handy infographic on The Power of Digital Marketing to read the latest on user stats and trends, along with some digital 101, and helpful tips for digital success.

Keeping pace in the digital space is a demanding job, but someone has to do it. That’s why, at Shift, we’ve got a team of experts ready to develop and execute fully integrated marketing strategies that leverage all the tools and platforms at our disposal in the digital marketing world. Give us a call today and get started with your own digital marketing plan.

A Shift in News Feed

Who knew it would take Facebook to tell us that we are slowly losing our connection to the people who supposedly matter the most to us. Well, it did.

Recently, Facebook made the announcement that they are in the process of changing their News Feed algorithm…again… to put personal content from friends and family in the spotlight over those of business and media from pages you follow.

In other words, Facebook’s original mission was to connect people with their friends and family in a simpler way. News Feed is still exhibiting that, however, our friends are being pushed to the back burner by media, business and marketing pages that we follow. This change is mostly happening because savvy marketers know how to adapt quickly to algorithm changes and play the game.

This is all well and good, but if you depend at all on web traffic to drive your business, you may need to rethink your strategy. The reach and referral traffic of posts from any Facebook pages that focus on business or media companies could begin to drop.

Now, let’s get something straight. Facebook isn’t going to just wipe away business and media companies from News Feed completely, they will still be there…the problem is that they could be at the bottom of your feed. BUT WAIT! There’s a loophole! If you have tons of referral traffic such as people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact.

For big businesses that don’t need to post heavily and can rely on others to share their content, this isn’t going to affect them all that much. What did you say? You aren’t a big business? You aren’t Justin Bieber? Uh oh. Smaller businesses might have to fight back by paying Facebook the big bucks to promote their content as sponsored (you are one sneaky guy, Zuckerberg).

So, now that we have covered the basics of what this change is going to do, let’s talk about the future.

Organic reach is one of the answers to your problems, which may be your biggest problem. This is Facebook’s way of giving you a wake-up call that at the end of the day, people want to connect with people. That’s how Facebook became what it is today! It’s going to be a long process, but once you build those relationships with your followers, they will start doing the work for you by sharing, commenting and liking your posts.

The goal is to add authenticity to your page. Rather than solely posting brand posts that push people to buy a product, enter a promotion or reuse content from ads, post something engaging…and make it personal.

Being a page on Facebook isn’t getting the attention is used to anymore. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important! They offer free and easy-to-maintain online presence for people to learn more information about your business. The problem is that businesses are using Pages as a publishing service when they are much more than that. Your business page is your identity.

Facebook wants to see a face, a name, a personality behind the screen. In addition to changing the way you post content, they want you to activate a variety of different employee voices at your company that will make their pages public. People don’t want to just scroll through your page, they want to interact with it. They may be using it for customer service or discovery to what kinds of people work there.

For example, rather than following your local news station’s Facebook page, you can follow the reporters and on-air talent for your information. In marketing, this could mean having the creative team post video or graphics content. Or your client services team taking to their own Facebook pages and talking about their best strategies to working with clients.

Another way you can get your team involved is for them to post it to the company Facebook page, but then also share it to their own page. This will help to grow your network to not only people who follow your page, but also people who follow your employees too.

Facebook is not saying buh-bye to Pages. They are reinventing them in a better-suited way for your current and potential customers. There will be more added features to Pages including messaging to communicate with the business directly and more effective ways of browsing through video and photo content.

This is a chance for change in the right direction. Build a following based off of relevant and great content that will really resonate with your audience and your business will soar.

5 ways consumers connect to stores with mobile shopping

Smartphones are changing consumer behavior both in and out of stores, and for both big and small companies.  Here are five ways brands can connect with real people, in real time.

Consumers are relying more on their mobile devices to communicate, research products and acquire information.  Brands are realizing that mobile plays a large role in driving shoppers in-store.  But how can brands utilize this shift and use it to their advantage?

As the mobile shopping experience becomes more and more innovative, it may be hard for brands to keep up; however, there is tremendous opportunity for brands in these on-the-go micro-moments. Think With Google has gathered third-party data to identify five ways that brands can engage with consumers in every kind of micro-moment:

  1. Smartphone shopping has created a new “front door to the store.” Companies are learning that the consumer’s shopping journey begins on their mobile device, but the shoppers that click on a mobile search ad are more likely to end up in that store.
  2. Consumers are hungrier than ever for local information. Google reports that searches with “near me” have grown 2.4X year-over-year. This means that customers are looking for local, easily accessible stores to shop at.
  3. Ads that show local inventory drive shoppers into stores. One in four consumers say they avoid stores because they don’t know whether the item they’re looking for is in stock. If brands use mobile sites to display items in stock, they can drive more traffic to their store.
  4. Smartphones are the new in-store research advisor. Consumers now reach for their phones to find out information on purchases they want to make, rather than search for an in-store assistant.  Almost one in four shoppers reported that they’ve changed their mind in line to buy a product, after researching it in store. Providing your customers with scan-able products on mobile apps that can reveal more information about the product, such as reviews and ratings, can be beneficial to you and the consumers.
  5. Omni-channel shoppers spend more. According to MasterCard, customers who shop both online and off with a specific retailer buy 250% more on average. Omni-channel shoppers are valued more at most stores than single channel shoppers.

It is no secret the mobile is shifting the way consumers shop both in and out of stores.  Brands can use the above data to create the best shopping experience for their customers by utilizing both online and in-store elements. It’s essential to connect with consumers in the mobile experience, but it’s even more essential to create satisfying and relevant shopping experiences to keep them coming back.

THE NEW CALL TO ACTION: BUILD SALES AND BRAND IMAGE AT THE SAME TIME

Call today! Order now! Get this amazing item, FREE!

Cheesy, overly energetic calls to action like these have been part of our culture since the earliest days of advertising. This is direct response! It’s not image communication. Those are two different animals, right?

SALES NOW VS. IMAGE LONG-TERM

Image is used at the top of the funnel. Setting a tone. Creating a voice. Making people understand the essence of your brand.

Direct response is used when people are ready to buy and need to be nudged to act.  Tell a lot of people to do something, and a certain percentage of them will go and do it. Smarmy as they may seem, traditional calls to action do work.

But don’t you feel like taking a shower after you get one hurled at you?

Analytics show you what your target wants and when they want it, and good UX design makes it easy for them to act. But if you pop up, slide in or overlay the information your target is actually interested in, don’t you still need to whack them over the head with a verbal hammer to keep them from clicking you away?

Um, no. In fact, the more effective solution is (are you sitting down, traditional DR marketers?) charming your target into engaging with you, treating them with respect and trusting them to make the right decision.

Of course there are UX tricks you can use—rounded buttons get more clicks than squared off ones, using imagery near your call to action generates more clicks, too. But you can create urgency without inciting a panic attack.

BE CLEAR AND COMPELLING

Rather than ordering your target around, Susan Weinschenk, PhD, author of the book “How to Get People to Do Stuff” suggests something novel—persuading people without being mean, pushy or obnoxious.  Among other ideas, she suggests showing someone achieving the thing you want them to achieve, rather than ordering them to take steps toward achieving it.

Or, consider the decidedly non-abrasive example set by email marketing website myemma.com. To entice you to order their guide for choosing the best color, shape, copy and placement for creating a “click here” button that will skyrocket your click rates, myemma uses this short, sweet, exclamation point-free phrase: GET THE GUIDE.

Why are the experts changing their call to action tactics now, when we know traditional direct response techniques have time-proven sales value?

Because creating a call to action that treats the target with dignity does more than just bring in quantifiable conversions. It does that thing digital marketers have been struggling to figure out how to do for years. It makes you look confident. It makes you seem trustworthy. It makes people feel good about engaging with you.

In other words, it boosts your brand image.

How to Prepare for Google’s Next Change

Google’s next big change is here: it’s time to say “goodbye” to right-side ads on desktop search landing pages.  In an effort to align the mobile and desktop experience, the search giant will be reducing the total number of text ads shown on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) from 11 to 7.  The right-hand rail will be removed, except in instances where Knowledge Panels and Product Listing Ads are relevant, and an additional ad placement will be added to the top of the SERP.  Here’s a quick rundown of what you can do to stay top of page and top of mind.

  1. Don’t freak out
    Chances are those right-hand reads weren’t delivering quality traffic to your site anyways.  This change will mostly affect queries in which Google perceives an intent to purchase, making this a mutually beneficial update for both marketers and consumers.
  2. Check your AdWords account
    You should be doing this regularly, but now it’s more important than ever to make sure that your average page position is 1-4. If you’re not, start working on improving your quality score and increasing your bids to make sure you stay at the top of the page.
  3. Be prepared for a budget increase
    Less ad space inventory means more competition and higher prices. Don’t be surprised if the average cost per click goes up because of this release. Furthermore, focus on the ROI from those top ad spaces and preemptively determine how much you’re willing to increase your paid search budget to support this change.

Contact Shift today if you need help with your paid search campaigns. Our experts utilize data-driven marketing techniques and technologies that are carefully planned and continuously monitored and optimized to make sure you reach qualified local prospects and achieve a higher return on your marketing investment.

Super Bowl Ads: Touchdown or Sack?

Ready your game day snacks and beverages, Super Bowl weekend is fast approaching. And while we tune in to watch two teams battle for pigskin supremacy, marketers are gearing up for the coveted, highly anticipated, Holy Grail of advertising. Stakes are high for players, coaches, and marketers alike.

The cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad spot has increased 75% between 2005 and 2014, now generating a staggering $2.19 billion in ad sales. With 30-seconds now costing $5 million, advertisers are beginning to question whether the investment is still worth it. For the modern ad campaign, engagement is king. Purchasing access to a large pool of viewers for a single commercial may not be enough to reap a ROI that justifies such a hefty price tag. While advertisers will reach over 100 million people in one instance, will consumers be motivated to actively engage in their brand and offerings based solely on a commercial alone?

For me, the most memorable Super Bowl ad was Volkswagen’s: The Force commercial from 2011. Not only was I motivated to learn more about the brand, I shared this commercial through many of my social outlets. Albeit I never purchased a VW, this ad sparked me as a consumer to spread brand awareness. Five years ago this single commercial could potentially have been all that was needed to inspire consumers to engage, but nowadays marketers are held to a higher standard. Measurement, targeting, and the ability to deliver relevant advertising through online and offline media is imperative. Being ahead of the curve and delivering successful campaigns is ever heightened in difficulty, as consumers have become flooded with information and imagery. Super Bowl ads have become a brand appetizer, providing the consumer a taste of what a company has to offer. It is through the utilization of additional marketing outlets (mobile, web, etc.), consumers are served the main course and engage. Upon purchase of a good or service, the dessert.

So, is a Super Bowl ad enough? In my opinion, no. Could it potentially be a successful jump start into an immersive multi-platform campaign? Absolutely.In order for advertisers to gain the edge, they must focus on the marriage of their digital content and ad insertion capabilities. Forward thinking brands must analyze, optimize and expand in order to build effective advertising campaigns. One play in the playbook just isn’t enough, a brand must focus on playing offense and defense, adjusting on the fly and using each of its players to score the game winning touchdown.

YOU’RE RESHAPING THE WORLD BY READING THIS.

The world is changing right under our digital footprints. What comes next will be a function of the impact we make, as we navigate through this weird wonderland of changing media.

So who will your guides be?

There are more than 7 billion people on earth, and you can’t pay attention to all of them. What draws you to one person over another?? A common interest? A great sense of humor? High intelligence? Street smarts? Do you like people who help you grow and develop as a person? Or make you feel like you’re perfectly okay the way you are?

Crushing on brands is like crushing on people

We surround ourselves with a carefully chosen group of people who reflect who we are. It starts with kind of a crush, and if the person turns out to be as amazing as they seemed at first, we promote them from new friend to true friend.

It’s the same with brands. Millions of brand voices call out to us all the time, but we connect with only a rare few. The ones that get our attention are like the people we open up to. At first, they make us feel like we’re in on something special. Over time, they either prove to be as cool as we thought they were, or we move on.

How brands go from new friend to true friend

Let’s take Apple, for example. Arguably one of the strongest brands on earth, Apple didn’t build itself by trying to win everyone’s heart. Just the hearts of those who “think different.” Like an inspiring teacher or a supportive friend with high expectations, Apple seemed to understand a person’s need to be an individual, to express their creative side, and to live a simple, aesthetically rewarding life, within the complexity of what was a growing tidal wave of frustrating, grey-looking technology.

How would the digital landscape look if Steve Jobs hadn’t been a part of it?  It would still be here, connecting us all. But how different would our devices look? How differently would it all be connected?   Jobs’ insistence on simplicity and beauty shaped our expectations of digital life.

Apple’s brave, distinctive voice came out of a company on the brink of failure, and remained consistent through its transformation into the richest company on earth.

Uncensor your brand.

Who is your brand at heart?

Who does your brand matter to?

You can’t bore those people into bringing your brand into their inner circles.

So, how brave are you willing to be about letting it connect with those people, and create relationships that they truly value?

5 Tips for Creating Newsletters Users Want to Read

Email newsletters are the perfect way to communicate with prospects or customers on a regular basis. However, email marketing is a delicate relationship that needs proper nourishment.  If you provide the wrong type or consistency of information, you’ll lose permission to communicate with prospects. As a marketer, we know you have good intentions with your email newsletter. But at the end of the day, your news, how-tos, tips and special features need to add a benefit to the end user.

Your content strategy for email newsletters should be well-calculated. By delivering a deliberate message, you’ll create email newsletters that people will want to read. Here are seven tips to help you get subscribers excited about seeing your name in their inboxes:

Provide Value

Which email newsletters do you love to open? Analyze your own habits and you’ll notice that you open newsletters that regularly provide value, such as discounts, or information that could help you do your job better.  Plan your email marketing with the mindset of, “If I were receiving this, would I want to open it?” Having a consumer-focused email strategy will help you establish a connection with your subscribers and put you on the list of considerations when they are ready to convert.

Deliver on Expectations

If you tell subscribers that they will receive actionable insights or special deals and don’t deliver, your unsubscribe rate will jump through the roof.  Use clear language to set proper expectations when users sign up and follow through with your deliverables.

Provide Calls to Action

As a marketer, you always want a user to complete an action. Email marketing is no different. Let the subscriber know what you want him/her to do. Links should visually stand out and use clear language. Mix in a combination of call to action buttons for main content and in-text links for more streamlined sub-content.

Hyper-Segment

Creating list segments helps you deliver relevant content and calls to action. Consider a manufacturer that sells both B2B and B2C. You want consumers to purchase directly from your website or find a store that carries products. On the other hand, you want to share tradeshow information and market analysis with your business partners. By dividing your list into consumers and partners, you can deliver the right information to the right people.

Design with Intent

Design helps focus a user’s attention on what you want them to do. A great email design does three things: motivate a person to take action, reduce anxiety towards taking the action and provide a clear path to conversion. Keep context in mind as well; 53% of emails are now opened on mobile devices.

Your customers want to hear from you. Email marketing is possible because subscribers invited you into their inboxes. Keep the invitation open with newsletters that excite and delight and your subscribers.

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